Do you want to be able to do a full press-up? One writer – who has struggled to get into fitness in the past – took on the Strong Women Training Club’s eight-week beginners plan, and the results were surprising.
Before the pandemic, I had a very rocky relationship with fitness. In all honesty, buy online orlistat next day without prescription I don’t think I’ve ever been ‘fit’; there have been periods in my life where I’ve played a team sport or done a few at-home workouts in a row, but in between those times, my fitness routine has always been sporadic at best.
Despite this, I never actually realised how little I was moving my body – until lockdown hit. While I was living in London, I’d always made myself too “busy” to pay attention to when I’d missed a workout or hadn’t done some dedicated exercise in a while.
But without the business of my daily commute and lunchtime trips to Pret to occupy me, the amount of time I spent sitting down – and the impact that was having on my body – became a lot clearer.
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Moving home for lockdown and spending time with my sister and dad, both of whom happen to be major gym-goers, hammered home how unfit and weak I was. Joining them for a workout one day, I naively assumed I’d be able to keep up – but after struggling my way through one press-up on the knees and finding myself thoroughly out of breath, I realised this just wasn’t the case.
All of this really worried me. Against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the fact that I was moving less than ever, I realised how little I’d been taking care of my body and decided to make a change.
I’d been offered free access to the Strong Women Training Club through work and, after seeing they had a beginner’s strength training plan ready and waiting for me, I decided to give it a go.
In all honesty, I didn’t think I’d make it very far. As you’ve probably already guessed, I’m a bit rubbish at sticking to things, and as much as I knew that I wanted to make a commitment, I also knew that life sometimes gets in the way.
However, a full nine weeks later, I can confirm that I stuck to it – and after years of relative unfitness, I can now do a full press-up off the knees.
Before I get into the results, let me tell you what the plan entails. Each week of the plan consists of three workouts – there are no specified days or times for you to do them, so it’s up to you what times of the day/week suit you best. For me, that was after work on Mondays and Wednesdays, with the final workout completed sometime on my day off on Friday.
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Each workout in the plan takes a maximum of 45 minutes to complete. There are five ‘rounds’ in each workout: a warm up, which usually consists of some stretches and light movement; perfect form, which gives you one move to work on and perfect; the strength circuit, which combines five exercises to complete three times; the strong finisher, which is as tiring as the name suggests; and finally, a cool down.
Each exercise comes with a video demonstration by one of the Strong Women Training Club trainers, and there’s a specified number of reps to complete.
You do need some kind of weight to complete the workouts, but if you can’t get your hands on some dumbbells (I used a pair of 2.5kg ones), you can use everyday objects like a can of beans or a milk carton to start with.
Although there were definitely days when I found it hard to motivate myself to workout (we are in the middle of a pandemic, after all), I managed to complete the plan in nine weeks, with a break between the sixth and seventh weeks.
I didn’t really do any exercise outside of the plan, either, except from some mobility workouts and a daily walk around the block.
What made the plan work for me was how flexible it was. There wasn’t a workout every day of the week, so I had time to skip a day if I wasn’t feeling it, and the fact that it’s not video-led (you click through the moves like an Instagram story) meant I was able to go as fast or as slow as I like, which was valuable to me as a beginner.
I feel stronger, healthier, and more confident in what I’m doing going forward
I also felt pretty safe doing the workouts because I knew the moves and amount of reps were designed for beginners, so I wasn’t afraid to push myself when things got tough.
The types of moves and reps in each workout change and increase as you go through, too, so even as I was getting stronger, I still felt like I was being challenged and was learning new things every time I worked out (a concept I now know is called progressive overloading).
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In terms of the final results, I couldn’t be happier. Not only can I now do a press-up off of the knees – something I actually never imagined I’d be able to do when I started – I feel stronger, healthier, and more confident in what I’m doing going forward.
I don’t know whether it was the workout plan in particular, the fact that I’ve been stuck at home during lockdown, my fear of how unhealthy I was or a combination of the three, but I can confidently say that I really enjoyed the last nine weeks – and I can’t wait to see where my strength training journey takes me next.
Images: Lauren Geall
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